see also: Law
Pronunciation Noun


  1. The body of binding rules and regulations, customs and standards established in a community by its legislative and judicial authorities.
    the courts interpret the law
    entrapment is against the law
    1. The body of such rules that pertain to a particular topic.
      property law
      commercial hunting and fishing law
    2. Common law, as contrasted with equity.
  2. A binding regulation or custom established in a community in this way.
    There is a law against importing wallabies.
    A new law forbids driving on that road.
    The court ruled that the executive order was not law and nullified it.
    • 1915, G[eorge] A. Birmingham [pseudonym; James Owen Hannay], chapter I, in Gossamer, New York, N.Y.: George H. Doran Company, OCLC 5661828 ↗:
      As a political system democracy seems to me extraordinarily foolish, […]. My servant is, so far as I am concerned, welcome to as many votes as he can get. […] I do not suppose that it matters much in reality whether laws are made by dukes or cornerboys, but I like, as far as possible, to associate with gentlemen in private life.
  3. (more generally) A rule, such as:
    1. Any rule that must or should be obeyed, concerning behaviours and their consequences. (Compare mores.)
      "Do unto others as you wish them to do unto you" is a good law to follow.
      the law of self-preservation
    2. A rule or principle regarding the construction of language or art.
      the laws of playwriting and poetry
    3. A statement (in physics, etc) of an (observed, established) order or sequence or relationship of phenomena which is invariable under certain conditions. (Compare theory.)
      • 1992 March 2, Richard Preston, The New Yorker, "The Mountains of Pi" ↗:
        Observing pi is easier than studying physical phenomena, because you can prove things in mathematics, whereas you can’t prove anything in physics. And, unfortunately, the laws of physics change once every generation.
      the laws of thermodynamics
      Newton's third law of motion states that to every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction.
      This is one of several laws derived from his general theory expounded in the Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica.
    4. (mathematics, logic) A statement (of relation) that is true under specified conditions; a mathematical or logical rule.
      Mathematical laws can be proved purely through mathematics, without scientific experimentation.
    5. Any statement of the relation of acts and conditions to their consequences.
      the law of scarcity
      the law of supply and demand
    6. (cricket) One of the official rules of cricket as codified by the its (former) governing body, the MCC.
  4. The control and order brought about by the observance of such rules.
    They worked to maintain law and order.
    It was a territory without law, marked by violence.
  5. (informal) A person or group that act(s) with authority to uphold such rules and order (for example, one or more police officers).
    Here comes the law — run!
    then the law arrived on the scene
  6. The profession that deals with such rules (as lawyers, judges, police officers, etc).
    He is studying for a career in law.
    She has practiced law in New York for twenty years.
  7. Jurisprudence, the field of knowledge which encompasses these rules.
    She went to university to study law.
  8. Litigation, legal action (as a means of maintaining or restoring order, redressing wrongs, etc).
    They were quick to go to law.
  9. (now, uncommon) An allowance of distance or time (a head start) given to a weaker (human or animal) competitor in a race, to make the race more fair.
  10. (fantasy) One of two metaphysical forces ruling the world in some fantasy settings, also called order, and opposed to chaos.
  11. (legal, chiefly, historical) An oath sworn before a court, especially disclaiming a debt. (Chiefly in the phrases "wager of law", "wage one's law", "perform one's law", "lose one's law".)
  • French: loi, droit
  • German: Gesetz, Recht
  • Italian: legge
  • Portuguese: lei, (please verify) direito (pt) m
  • Russian: пра́во
  • Spanish: ley, (please verify) derecho#Spanish|derecho (es) m
Translations Translations Translations Translations Verb

law (laws, present participle lawing; past and past participle lawed)

  1. (obsolete) To work as a lawyer; to practice law.
  2. (ambitransitive, chiefly, dialectal) To prosecute or sue (someone), to litigate.
    • 1860, George Eliot (Mary Anne Lewes), The Mill on the Floss:
      Your husband's [...] so given to lawing, they say. I doubt he'll leave you poorly off when he dies.
  3. (nonstandard) To rule over (with a certain effect) by law; govern.
  4. (informal) To enforce the law.
  5. To subject to legal restrictions.

law (plural laws)

  1. (obsolete) A tumulus of stones.
  2. (Scottish and Northern England, archaic) A hill.
  1. (dated) An exclamation of mild surprise; lawks.

Proper noun
  1. Surname
  2. A diminutive of Lawrence.
Proper noun
  1. Surname, perhaps originally meaning someone who lives near a burial mound.
  2. (Scotland) a conical hill
  3. A village in South Lanarkshire, Scotland (OS grid ref NS8252).
Proper noun
  1. (Judaism) The Torah.
  2. (Christianity) Either the Divine commandments (primarily the Decalogue), the Old Testament in general or, most specifically, the Torah.

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